MONTREAL - Montreal Canadiens defence prospect Pavel Valentenko has signed a three-year contract with Dynamo Moscow, the Russian hockey club reported Thursday on its website.
A Canadiens spokesman said the team was unaware of the signing. But he said that Valentenko, who had been playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, returned to Russia for "personal and family reasons."
Dynamo Moscow plays in the new Continental Hockey League, known as the KHL.
The Canadiens had already lost forward Alexander Perezhogin to Russian club Ufa Salavat last season.
The six-foot-two, 220-pound Valentenko was in his second season with the Bulldogs after failing to crack the NHL lineup in training camp.
A physical defenceman with a powerful shot, Valentenko had two assists in four games this season. He had a goal and 15 assists last season for Hamilton.
"We didn't have a place for him here in the short term, but in the long term, it was different," coach Guy Carbonneau said in Minnesota, where the Canadiens were to play the Wild on Thursday night.
"He was in the mix with the other young defencemen in the organization like Ryan McDonough, Yannick Weber, P.K. Subban, David Fischer, Mathieu Carle and Alexei Yemelin."